After Brandon Roy's retirement and losing Greg Oden for another season, the Portland Trailblazers have come out with a tenacity that could carry them deep into the playoffs.
So, what other squads are playing good enough to sneak into the playoffs? You won't see teams that are expected to sail into one of the top spots here.
A few of these teams do seem destined to continue playing after the regular season though, but others are going to need a little bit of luck.
The defending NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks haven't had a great start to the season.
The loss of J.J Barea and Tyson Chandler have dimmed the team's hopes at a repeat championship, but Dallas still has ample time to turn things around.
With the early promise the San Antonio Spurs have shown (although no Manu Ginobili could lead to disaster), topping the Southwest Division may not be in the Mavericks' future.
Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki have played well, but new additions Vince Carter and Lamar Odom will need to provide much more of a scoring boost than they have thus far.
If they do, the Mavericks could slide into one of the last few playoffs spots available.
Once again, the New York Knicks have started the season off poorly. They sit at 2-4 on the year with their most recent losses coming from the Charlotte Bobcats and the Toronto Raptors.
It may be a little premature to worry about the Knicks' playoff fate, but in a shortened season, the playoffs are just around the corner.
Could one Baron Davis be the savior? Or will the team be in disrepair by the time he is healthy?
Davis has a record of re-energizing teams, and his showmanship will fit in perfectly at the giant stage of Madison Square Garden.
But with two of the NBA's most talented players on the roster, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, the Knicks might not need Davis to make their way into the playoffs as an eighth seed in an Eastern Conference filled with mediocrity.
Kobe Bryant won't be giving up the top spot in the Pacific Division so easily.
While the Los Angeles Clippers have been anointed the NBA's team of the future, Bryant isn't ready to just roll over.
It will be an uphill battle for the Lakers though. Bryant, Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher aren't getting any younger. In fact, eight players in the Lakers' rotation are at least 31 years old (Fisher is 37), but the team does have some younger talent as well.
Even if the vibrant Clippers squad does manage to grab the top spot in the Pacific Division, the Lakers still have a great shot at locking up a playoff spot and playing after the regular season concludes.
The Denver Nuggets are looking good.
The Nuggets are sitting at 5-2 after seven games, and they have no glaring weaknesses. Although the team lost a few players to free agency, other players have stepped up.
Al Harrington, who signed with the team last season, has shown his scoring potential in every single Nuggets matchup this year (other than one eight-point game in a loss against the Portland Trailblazers). He is averaging an impressive 15.6 points per game with a .544 field goal percentage in only 25.4 minutes a game.
Denver has no real superstars. The Nuggets don't have a single 20-point per game scorer, but they do have a ton of really good players. The team doesn't need one person to go off every night in order to make it to the playoffs, and it seems Denver is on its way there.
After news that Zach Randolph will be out 6-8 weeks with a knee injury, the Memphis Grizzlies will need a little luck in order to stay in the playoff running.
But the Grizzlies managed to snag the eighth spot last season even with their star small forward, Rudy Gay, missing the entire year.
This season, it will be Gay keeping the team afloat while Randolph recovers. Gay has some talented pieces around him like big man Mark Gasol and a trio of talented guards in Tony Allen, Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo.
The Grizzlies should be able to do just enough to sneak into the last playoff spot again this season, but it won't be easy.
The Atlanta Hawks are a dangerous team. If you don't agree, just ask the Miami Heat who the Hawks handed their first and only loss of the season to.
With Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Jeff Teague, Al Horford and Marvin Williams, Atlanta's starting five is tremendous.
The team is up against the Heat and Orlando Magic in the Southwest Division, so the chances of taking the top spot there is unrealistic.
Still, Atlanta is playing well enough to earn a playoff berth, and no one will be looking forward to facing the Hawks when they get there.
The Boston Celtics aren't the powerhouses they once were. Like the Los Angeles Lakers, the Celtics are getting older.
Jermaine O'Neal and Paul Pierce are 33 years old. Kevin Garnett is 35 and Ray Allen is the youngest 36-year-old in the NBA.
Rajon Rondo is the only Celtics starter that is younger than 33 years of age, but that doesn't mean that the team is without a shot this year.
The Doc Rivers-led squad is ready for another playoff run, and with their three aging superstars, it might be one of the Celtics' last with Garnett, Pierce and Allen.
Boston probably won't top the East, but it would be a surprise if the team didn't make the playoffs.
The Philadelphia 76ers have a perfect mix of veteran and young talent.
Elton Brand and Andrés Nocioni impact the team with their experience. Louis Williams, Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday and Spencer Hawes inject the liveliness of vitality.
And then you have the all-around skills of Andre Iguodala, who has both youth and veteran experience (plus he can fly).
The 76ers made the playoffs last season as the seventh seed, and they should at the very least do the same this year.
There has been a buzz surrounding the Indiana Pacers early this season.
The Pacers are solid at rebounding and defense, and Danny Granger has emerged as a consistent scorer. Indiana is a very young team though, but getting to the playoffs last season was invaluable as far as experience goes.
The Pacers remind me of the Denver Nuggets (without quite the scoring punch). They don't have any players who could be considered superstars (possibly Granger), but they play hard and as a team.
If Indiana can keep up its rebounding and defensive efforts (which was nowhere to be found in the 118-83 loss to the Miami Heat), then the Pacers should cruise into the playoffs and do better than the eighth seed they had last season.
The Portland Trailblazers might be the most talented team on this list.
Portland has a strong defensive presence. They can rebound, and the team has a ton of scorers that can put the ball through the hole with ease.
Just imagine the outlook for this season if the Trailblazers had Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, but even without them, Portland is looking good.
The team has started 4-1 with their only loss coming against a star-studded Los Angeles Clippers squad. It's unlikely that they'll finish ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Northwest Division, but with the team the Trailblazers have, they very well could.